We had the great opportunity to interview the CMO of Blue Frog Robotics, Maud Verraes. Blue Frog created Buddy, a companion robot and one of the highest grossing projects on Indiegogo this year! They’ve raised over $616,000 and Maud gave some insight into their campaign as well as great tips for future crowdfunders.
1) You’ve raised over $616,000. How does it feel?
It’s simply amazing. What is also incredible is that the Indiegogo campaign offers our project more than just funding. We’re getting tons of inquiries per day and suggestions of services, partnerships… we’ve never even thought of.
2) What was your marketing approach for your Indiegogo campaign?
Listen to our customers and meet with them early and often to truly try to understand what they want. Then you have to present your product in a unique way as well as make it clear what key benefits the product brings to them, especially if your product is disruptive like a companion robot! We’ve tried to achieve that through the Indiegogo video to connect with them emotionally.
3) How many months prior to the campaign did you start preparing?
We invested 3 months in campaign pre-planning and project assessment.
4) There have been many Smart Robot crowdfunding projects that have failed to reach their goal, outside of a great product what has been the key driver for Buddy’s success?
We believe that the key driver for Buddy’s success relies on the fact that we have succeeded in developing a simple, reliable, open source, mass market product that can evolve easily and effectively. BUDDY is the result of several years of research and now he is finally here and accessible to everyone. Rodolphe Hasselvander who is the CEO of BLUE FROG ROBOTICS is a robotics engineer and has been working in robotics for over 15 years. He has been leading the CRIIF, a well known French robotics labs, since 2007. He decided to create BLUE FROG ROBOTICS to transfer these high technologies in affordable robots for consumers.
5) How has crowdfunding changed the landscape for robotic projects like Buddy?
Crowdfunding is disrupting the distribution of products. Personal robot projects like BUDDY can propel themselves onto the main stage in a matter of days.
6) Kickstarter is a larger platform with more daily and monthly visitors. What made you decide to launch Buddy on Indiegogo?
Actually, we considered both platforms carefully. We took time to check each out and met both teams to decide which platform fits our needs best.
In the end we decided to go with IndieGogo to launch Buddy to the market. We truly believed that their platform was more suitable for our product pricing model structure including accessories and IndieGogo also offers a lot of tools and support to track our project. The Perk upgrade feature enabling contributors to choose multiple perks, eg the Buddy plus accessories, was key to our campaign success. Last but not least, the InDemand feature, which allows us to accept contributions even after our campaign is closed was also essential for future operations.
7) For years it seems as if everyone has always wanted a smart robot in their home. Your campaign has proven that there is in fact a market for smart robots. How did this happen? Has technology finally caught up and enabled you to have a smart robot like Buddy in your home or is it that people have finally warmed up to having a robot in their home monitoring them 24/7?
It’s the correlation of both aspects, technology readiness and peoples acceptance of robots that meet at the right timing.
From day one our goal has been to make advanced robotic technologies and life-enhancing robots that are affordable and available to the mass market. BUDDY is mobile, accessible, extremely easy to use and scalable from both a hardware and software perspective. It is completely based on open source and he’s really cute! BUDDY’s likeness was inspired by great science fiction movies like Star Wars and the robots who were such a big part of these films. We also found inspiration from Wall-e and other cartoon characters that rocked our childhood.
BUDDY generates empathy and an emotional connection almost instantaneously. There is something about him, something a bit magical that makes people feel affection for him.
We invested significant resources to ensure that our companion robot would be seen as friendly and non-intimidating. This is a very important consideration as more and more families begin to welcome companion robots into their families at a very attractive price.
8) What’s your biggest piece of advice for future crowdfunding entrepreneurs?
One piece of advice is to not neglect your marketing/PR budget as part of any crowdfunding campaign now such as PR, mediapack, video, graphism & digital content…For a successful crowdfunding program you have to get the word out.
But most importantly, you have to conceive a product which best responds to the needs of your consumers. Last but not least, choose a crowdfunding platform that aligns with the type of product you are offering and the community you are targeting.
Buddy is an amazing product from a great team. Grab your Buddy companion now from Indiegogo!